15 June 2009
Quotables from Wendell Berry
First, a distraction: I was getting ready to write this post when I heard knocking in the living room. Sure enough, the crazy bluebird was attacking himself again in the picture window, which apparently creates an excellent reflection at certain times of day. I pulled the curtains over the window to keep him from giving himself a concussion, remembering the Baltimore Oriole that nearly killed himself on my father's pick-up side mirrors back when I was in high school. Every day when he got home from work he had to cover the mirrors with paper bags . . .
I love Wendell Berry's writing. I do not always agree with his conclusions, but I appreciate his eloquent defense of simplicity and tradition. Last night I was skimming Life is a Miracle, trying to decide if I'm in the mood for it just now. I think not, but I enjoyed the section of brief concluding notes. Sometimes he makes me laugh -- and then forces me into a completely unexpected depth of thinking, like this note did: "The anti-smoking campaign, by its insistent reference to the expensiveness to government and society of death by smoking, has raised a question that it has not answered: What is the best and cheapest disease to die from, and how can the best and cheapest disease be promoted?" The implications are profound . . . and perhaps a bit frightening in today's climate.
There goes the bluebird again -- someone has opened the curtains. I may kill him myself, to put him out of my misery.
Here is another note, this time about art: "Good artists are people who can stick things together so that they stay stuck. They know how to gather things into formal arrangements that are intelligible, memorable, and lasting. Good forms confer health onto the things that they stick together. Farms, families, and communities are forms of art just as are poems, paintings, and symphonies. None of these things would exist if we did not make them. We can make them either well or poorly; this choice is another thing that we make."
And again the bluebird. I give up. I shall have to pull the shade down and live in a cave this morning again . . .